Wednesday, November 7, 2018

381. Why I Didn't Vote

This post is short, angry, and right to the point.  On a happier note, go to BROWDERBOOKS below for my books.

                WHY  I  DIDN’T  VOTE

         I was all keyed up to vote.  New York City’s Board of Elections had sent me a bilingual notice (English and Spanish) telling me when and where to vote, but unlike in previous elections, it didn’t include a list of candidates, with statements from each.  So I scratched around on the Internet and finally got spotty information on the candidates and their positions, and even on the three propositions   I had always voted, midterms included, with a single exception: a midterm where there wasn’t a single candidate or issue to vote for in my election district, except judges, whom I never vote for, knowing nothing about them or their backers.  Also, I had many errands to do elsewhere, and the polling site was eight blocks away from my building.  But this time I wanted to vote, knowing full well that none of my candidates had a ghost of a chance of winning, but to register my opposition to the local establishment.  If Congress is a swamp, Albany, the New York State capital, is a cesspool, and I planned to make my opinion clear in my voting.  And I even knew to turn the ballot over to find three propositions to vote on, and knew how I would vote: yes, yes, no.

         So election day, Tuesday, November 6, came at last, and with it, rain.  Since it was only a slight drizzle, I set off mid-morning for my polling site, PS 3 on Hudson Street, without an umbrella, hoping to be back home before the predicted heavy showers and thunderstorms hit.  Naïve.

         When I got to PS 3, the rain was coming down hard, and for the first time ever, I found a long line out on the sidewalk, waiting to get inside.  I joined it, but a woman there holding an umbrella in one hand and in the other, a ballot clutched to her bosom, told me that if I had no ballot, I was in the wrong line; I must enter through the blue door, get a ballot from my election district table, fill the ballot out, and then join the line waiting to insert my ballot into a voting machine.  Going in with the best of intentions, I was sure that the people with ballots would think I was jumping the line, but I tried anyway.

         Finding no blue door, I went in with the crowd, and inside found a dense mass of voters trying to squeeze through another doorway giving access to where the election district tables were located.  It was total confusion and chaos, and when I saw four people abreast trying to squeeze in through that doorway, I knew I would never get in.  And there was no one to give guidance – no one.  And even if I could get a ballot and mark it, how could I keep it dry in the rain, and if I put it in my shoulder bag, how could I keep it from being wrinkled or crumpled, so that the machine would reject it?   

         Registering a great feeling of despair and disgust, I fought my way back outside and departed in a pelting rain to do other errands.  Every gutter now was a surging stream; there was no way to get past them without your feet getting wet.  By the time I got home, I was soaked through, my hat a sodden rag with water dripping off the brim.  And since the temperature outside hovered in the mid-50s, the heat wasn’t on, which meant everything would take hours to dry.  Even with the windows shut, I could sense the outside damp, and felt a chill inside.  And when at lunchtime I got the news on the radio, I heard reports from all over the city of long lines at polling sites, confusion, waits as long as an hour and a half, wet ballots, and malfunctioning machines.  So even if the rain let up and I went back to PS 3, I would have to wait forever to vote.  No thanks, this time they’d have to do without me.

         A wretched day, one of the worst in my life.  At any minor mishap – an object misplaced or dropped on the floor – I muttered curses or exploded in a volley of blasphemy.  And no heat, always that chill.  Finally, and none too soon, I dropped into bed and pulled the covers up like a carapace, embracing sleep with the one small comfort of knowing that the next day promised sun.

Coming soon:  Who knows?  I just deleted the next post by mistake.


All books are available online as indicated, or from the author.

1.  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World (Mill City Press, 2015).  Winner of the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016.  All about anything and everything New York: alcoholics, abortionists, greenmarkets, Occupy Wall Street, the Gay Pride Parade, my mugging in Central Park, peyote visions, and an artist who made art of a blackened human toe.  

If you love the city (or hate it), this may be the book for you.  An award winner, it sold well at BookCon 2017 and 2018, and at the Brooklyn Book Festival 2018.


"If you want wonderful inside tales about New York, this is the book for you.  Cliff Browder has a way with his writing that makes the city I lived in for 40 plus years come alive in a new and delightful way. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint."  Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.

"To read No Place for Normal: New York is to enter into Cliff Browder’s rich and engaging sixty years of adult life in New York. Yes, he delves back before his time – from the city’s origins to the 19th Century that Ms. Trollope and Mr. Dickens encounter to robber barons and slums that marked highs and lows of the earlier Twentieth Century. But Browder has lived such an engaged and curious life that he can’t help but cross paths with every layer and period of society. There is something Whitmanesque in his outlook."  Five-star Amazon customer review by Michael P. Hartnett.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

2.  Bill Hope: His Story (Anaphora Literary Press, 2017), the second novel in the Metropolis series.  New York City, 1870s: From his cell in the gloomy prison known as the Tombs, young Bill Hope spills out in a torrent of words the story of his career as a pickpocket and shoplifter; his brutal treatment at Sing Sing and escape from another prison in a coffin; his forays into brownstones and polite society; and his sojourn among the “loonies” in a madhouse, from which he emerges to face betrayal and death threats, and possible involvement in a murder.  Driving him throughout is a fierce desire for better, a persistent and undying hope.

For readers who like historical fiction and a fast-moving story.


"A real yarn of a story about a lovable pickpocket who gets into trouble and has a great adventure.  A must read."  Five-star Amazon customer review by nicole w brown.

"This was a fun book.  The main character seemed like a cross between Huck Finn and a Charles Dickens character.  I would recommend this."  Four-star LibraryThing review by stephvin.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

3.  Dark Knowledge (Anaphora Literary Press, 2018), the third novel in the Metropolis series.  Adult and young adult.  A fast-moving historical novel about New York City and the slave trade, with the sights and sounds and smells of the waterfront. 

New York City, late 1860s.  When young Chris Harmony learns that members of his family may have been involved in the illegal pre-Civil War slave trade, he is appalled.  Determined to learn the truth, he begins an investigation that takes him into a dingy waterfront saloon, musty old maritime records that yield startling secrets, and elegant brownstone parlors that may have been furnished by the trade.  Since those once involved dread exposure, he meets denials and evasions, then threats, and a key witness is murdered.  What price must Chris pay to learn the painful truth and proclaim it?


"A lively and entertaining tale.  The writing styles, plot, pace and character development were excellent."  Four-star LibraryThing early review by BridgitDavis.

"At first the plot ... seemed a bit contrived, but I was soon swept up in the tale."  Four-star LibraryThing early review by snash.

"I am glad that I have read this book as it goes into great detail and the presentation is amazing.  The Author obviously knows his stuff."  Four-star LibraryThing early review by Moiser20.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

4.  The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), the first novel in the Metropolis series, tells the story of a respectably raised young man who chooses to become a male prostitute in late 1860s New York and falls in love with his most difficult client.

What was the gay scene like in nineteenth-century New York?   Gay romance, but women have read it and reviewed it.  (The cover illustration doesn't hurt.)


"At times amusing, gritty, heartfelt and a little sexy -- this would make a great summer read."  Four-star Amazon customer review by BobW.

"Really more of a fantasy of a 19th century gay life than any kind of historical representation of the same."  Three-star Goodreads review by Rachel.

"The detail Browder brings to this glimpse into history is only equaled by his writing of credible and interesting characters.  Highly recommended."  Five-star Goodreads review by Nan Hawthorne.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

5.  Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies (Black Rose Writing, 2018).  A collection of posts from this blog.  Short biographical sketches of people, some remembered and some forgotten, who lived or died in New York.  All kinds of wild stuff, plus some stuff that isn't quite wild but fascinating.  New York is a mecca for hustlers of every kind, some likable and some horrible, but they are never boring.

Fascinating NYers eimage.jpg


"Fascinating New Yorkers by Clifford Browder was like sitting down with a dear friend and catching up on the latest gossip and stories. Written with a flair to keep the reader turning the pages, I couldn't stop reading it and thinking about the subjects of each New Yorker. I love NYC and this book just added to the list of reasons why, a must read for those who love NYC and the people who have lived there." Five-star NetGalley review by Patty Ramirez, librarian.

"Unputdownable."  Five-star review by Dipali Sen, retired librarian.

"I felt like I was gossiping with a friend when reading this, as the author wrote about New Yorkers who are unique in one way or another. I am hoping for another book featuring more New Yorkers, as I couldn't put this down and read it in one sitting!" Five-star NetGalley review by Cristie Underwood. 

©   2018   Clifford Browder   

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